"Difficult and complex memories are the foundation from which I begin my work. The vibrancy of my paintings make them hard to ignore, much like those experiences or issues we unsuccessfully try and bury."
An Untenable Shift, 2018, acrylic, flashe and gouache on canvas, 50 x 40-3/4 in
You attended the University of Illinois at Chicago for architecture before going back to school to study art. What sparked that decision? How do you think your interest in architecture informs the work that you make now?
I loved the idea of architecture as far back as childhood as a way to create practical sculpture. Unfortunately, I felt creatively limited by a budget and the voices of others. I craved autonomy in my designs and realized after a few years of searching that I could have these freedoms as an artist and began expressing myself through painting. Remnants of my architectural education are still observable in my work in the way I create two-dimensional space.
How do you use color and pattern to reinforce the concepts that you are exploring within your work?
Color, pattern and texture in addition to size and form all define shapes in relationship to each other. These relationships are what constitute the entire work. Every choice embodies emotion, ideas and memories. Sometimes these shapes work and flow together and sometimes they don’t. When a shape with saturated color and a tight pattern is placed next to another with a wash and a looser texture, it creates a relationship. I'm interested in those elements working together to become a cohesive whole, but not in an obvious way. I am most drawn to moments of visual tension or when things don't quite make sense, finding these complex relationships engaging as they parallel the real world.
left: A Tight Hold, 2017, acrylic, flashe and ink on panel, 16 x 20 in
right: Not Enough To Stay, 2018, acrylic, flashe and gouache on canvas, 48-1/2 x 60 in
Your work “ . . . captures an instant of human experience by visually delving into the complex of memories, emotions, reactions and physical states which erupt at various moments of existence.” Talk to me about how you begin each piece. Do you have a particular memory or emotion in mind, or is it more of a generalized feeling or notion?
It starts with an emotional response to a memory or interaction I’ve had. I do my best to capture the fleeting experience in a quick sketch, which I then develop further. Once I have determined the shapes of the frame, I draw out the composition, getting to the specificity of where my heart and mind are in that moment using abstraction to describe those memories in a visual not literal way.
Who are some of your biggest influences at the moment?
I’ve been inspired by Mary Heilmann’s spirited nature and the freedom exhibited in her work, Charlene Von Heyl’s inventiveness of space and mark-making, and Amy Sillman’s unique formal approach to express an inner dialogue.
Joanne Greenbaum is someone I have looked to for years. Her line work, use of color, and scale elicit a visceral response and are very much a representation of the moment they were made feeling fresh and alive.
What is your ultimate goal when it comes to creating these pieces? What deems a work successful in your eyes?
The work is successful when the emotive suggestion of color, shape, line and scale work together and depict lived experiences that resist a literal interpretation.